Sunday, 9 December 2012

farewell amsterdam, hello groningen!

We had a nice last day in Amsterdam. Being out of the party scene finally got us sightseeing. Mai and I rented some bikes and rode over to the Van Gogh collection at the Hermitage, which was pretty impressive. One pointer though if you’re riding in the cold is to wear some bloody gloves! We also rode passed the Rijksmuseum and took our obligatory photo at the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign. At least it was a nice sunny morning for us!

That afternoon we jumped on a train to Groningen to visit a friend, Annika.  We met doing our dive course in Cairns a few years ago. We thought it would be fairly simple. We paid for a train ticket, but interestingly there was no information about which platform to go to. When I asked the information desk he informed me that we also needed to change trains and be sure not to miss it! Surely they could have given this information at the ticket booth!? We were meant to meet Annika at 4.30pm. The train took longer than the designated 2 hours and by 5pm we were a little worried that we were going in the wrong direction! We asked a train official who didn’t speak too much English but managed to explain that there was a train crash and we were going the long way around. We assumed that this was being announced but we had no idea because it was all in Dutch. Also, the Dutch don’t seem to believe that having a train line map, or even a screen that says the next station displayed is helpful for customers. After learning that it could be a considerable amount of time before we reached our destination we managed to borrow a mobile to call Annika to let her know what was going on. She told us of a bus to catch from central station to her place and after  long day, we were greeted by her welcoming friend, Ben at the bus station. The next day I sorted out some credit for my phone!

Groningen is a nice little university town in the north of The Netherlands. It was much colder than usual when we arrived and we were quite tired. Annika and Ben cooked a nice meal and we stayed up for a few hours chatting over some beers. After a well-deserved sleep I woke up pretty early so decided to go for a 8km run through the parklands. When I return Annika had a traditional Dutch breakfast ready with lots of jam and bread and coffee. They like their bread here! That night we went out into town for dinner but none of us (except for Ben) were in the mood for drinking much! We had a pretty early night. Think we needed the rest as the next day we were off again! It was so nice to stay with you Annika, we had a lovely relaxing time and my door (provided I have one) is always open where ever I am!

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